State Briefs 10/22/09

Teacher accused of sex with students

DURAND — A Durand High School teacher has been arrested on suspicion of having sexual relationships with male students at the school.

Jennifer D. Bland, 23, was arrested Wednesday and charged with six counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

The Durand Police Department was contacted Tuesday about the alleged misconduct, while the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department followed up with an investigation. Multiple male students are involved, but it is not immediately known how many.

Rockford Register Star

Springfield names new police chief

SPRINGFIELD – Robert Williams, a 22-year veteran of the Springfield Police Department, was appointed the city's new police chief Thursday.

He will replace Ralph Caldwell, who announced Wednesday that he is retiring and taking a new job in Champaign.

Williams has served as the city's assistant police chief since Caldwell appointed him in 2007

He joined the force on April 9, 1987. Williams became a sergeant in April 1994 and a lieutenant in October 1999.

A Springfield native, Williams is a Southeast High School graduate and has an associate's degree from Lincoln Land Community College, a bachelor's degree in social justice from the University of Illinois at Springfield and a master's degree in organizational behavior from Benedictine University.

His appointment is subject to approval by the Springfield City Council. Until then, his official title will be acting chief.

Caldwell, a 29-year veteran of the police department, will become director of the Metropolitan Computer-Aided Dispatch service, which provides police, fire and emergency service dispatching for most of Champaign County.

State Journal-Register

Man sues U of I over clout list

TAYLORVILLE –  A Taylorville man has filed suit against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, seeking damages because of the school’s use of a “clout list” to admit some poorly qualified students.

Jonathan Yard filed the class-action suit in federal court in Chicago. The suit says the U of I advertised that its admission decisions were based on candidates’ academic records, standardized test scores, leadership and other qualities. “Notably absent from this list of admissions criterion is any mention of one’s political clout,” the suit says.

Yard ranked among the to 15 percent of his high school class, scored 29 on his ACT test and was a varsity athlete, the suit says.

“Patronage has become such an entrenched, though concealed, part of the admissions process at the University that it has even termed a name for the applicants with heavy-hitting sponsors: ‘Category I,’” the suit says.

It seeks more than $5 million in damages for “thousands” of non-Category I applicants who were refused admission to the U of I between 1999 and 2009.

State Journal-Register

Comptroller candidate says process for vendors needs to be improved

SPRINGFIELD – Small businesses seeking to provide goods or services to state government now have to navigate "a real maze" online, but the process ought to be more straightforward, Democratic comptroller candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi says.

At a Statehouse news conference Thursday, Krishnamoorthi said if he is elected comptroller, he'd set up a "one-stop shopping" Web site that would compile all of the opportunities to win state business.

Right now, he said, small businesses interested in getting a contract with state government must search through about a half-dozen governmental Web sites because the information is scattered. People who run small businesses don't have the time to check each site individually, Krishnamoorthi said.

His proposed "Open E-Market" would serve as a repository for all state contracting opportunities. "Open E-Market" would encourage a larger number of prospective bidders - including more women- and minority-owned businesses - to vie for state contracts, Krishnamoorthi said.

A Peoria native who now lives in the Chicago suburbs, Krishnamoorthi is an attorney and a former deputy state treasurer. State Rep. David Miller of Lynwood has said he also will seek the Democratic nomination for treasurer.

GateHouse News Service State Capitol Bureau

Man dies after falling from grain bin

RIDGWAY – A Gallatin County man died Wednesday morning when he fell from a grain bin south of Ridgway.

Michael Fromm, 55, was on top of the bin attempting to remove the cap so that grain could be deposited in it from a truck with an auger, according to Gallatin County Coroner Tony Cox.

"I don't know if he lost his footing, slipped or what happened, but he fell from the top of the bin to the ground," Cox said.

Fromm and his father, Hubert, were the only two at the location, Cox said.

The fall was about 25 feet. Fromm was dead when the ambulance arrived and Cox pronounced him dead at 10:35 a.m.

Harrisburg Daily Register